If you listen to the top 40 these days, or are hooked on country, you might think that a certain music genre is missing.
But for those pundits who have declared that rock is dead, or is resting, they may want to check out a live show by Vancouver-based band Citizens Unite.
With guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, these guys are bastions of hard-edged, melodic rock, as will be proven when Citizens Unite plays at Vernon’s The Green Saturday, May, 7.
The band came to be in early-2013 when guitarist Kai Markus, of Noise Therapy, Econoline Crush and Methods of Mayhem (the band founded by drummer Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe) approached vocalist Paul D’Eath, of Mushroom Trail, about starting a new project.
Default bassist Dave Benedict joined the band soon after.
“We’d been talking about doing something for years and then Kai called to say he’d love for me to be in his band,” remembered Benedict. “I always liked his style and he’s an amazing artist and guitar player but I wasn’t sure. Then he sent me a song he had been working on with Paul. I looked at my wife and said, ‘I have to do this.’”
That song was Push, which has since become Citizens Unite’s first single off its debut EP, released in January.
Attesting to how close-knit the rock scene in Vancouver was, and still is, Benedict brought in drummer Cameron Belter, who he played with in a band before joining Default.
“I actually quit that band at the time to join Default. We’ve made amends since,” laughed Benedict. “This is how small the music scene is that when Jeremy (Hora, guitarist with Default) first came to see me, my band was opening for Noise Therapy.”
Belter actually moved back to Vancouver from Regina, where he had relocated when that first band dissolved, to become a member of Citizens Unite.
“When he saw we had a project going, he noticed one of the key elements was missing, drums, so he moved back to Vancouver,” said Benedict. “He’s an amazing drummer and brings so much to the project. He’s also a piano player and is musically schooled. He also takes care of our social media and website. He’s the hardest working guy out of all of us.”
Benedict’s background in music can be traced back to these parts.
Originally from Owen Sound, Ont., he moved to Kelowna after graduating high school.
“I took some courses there and played in a band, Jester’s Revenge, but soon outgrew it. I wanted to be heard, so I went to the place where everything was happening,” he said.
Vancouver around that time had a pretty healthy rock scene with bands like Econoline Crush, Limblifter, and yes, Nickelback all making their mark on the Canadian rock landscape.
At that time, Benedict and Hora were working at a Ford dealership on the Coast.
“We were always talking about music. He was starting this band and needed a bass player and that’s how Default came to be. Within a couple of practices we wrote Wasting My Time and it became the biggest song we ever wrote,” said Benedict.
The band soon signed with Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger’s 604 Records label and after finding success in the early-to-mid 2000s, Benedict said the tide began to change when his fellow Default bandmates started doing other projects – in other genres.
“Rock was becoming a smaller group than what it was. We lost one of our own guys (Dallas Smith) to the rock-country scene,” said Benedict. “We still hang out and we talk about playing again, but Dallas is doing so well with his new country band, and all the other projects that we have going on are outside of music.”
Benedict not only started his own graphic design business, but a family. He now has three kids.
Citizens Unite came along just at the right moment, he said.
“All of us agree that playing in a band and going on tour is one of those things that has to make sense. We have to be able to have the lifestyle we have and none of us can afford to go on the baggy Spandex tour, where we eat a loaf of bread and live in a van.”
The Vernon show is providing the band with that opportunity to get its feet wet outside of Vancouver, and prove that rock knows no borders.
“We will take any opportunity to play out there,” said Benedict. “I still try to get out to the Okanagan once or twice a year.”
Opening for Citizens Unite at The Green is the newly formed Vernon band Sons of Distraction, who will be playing their first public gig.
The band features former Redfish members Steve Butler on drums and guitarist Dean Gordon-Smith, with vocalist Dave King, formerly of The Ride, and bassist Tim Osbourne, who got his start playing in the band Martin with Andrew Allen and more recently played in The Shawn Lightfoot Band.
Described as having a sound that is a hybrid of soul, garage, blues and rock, Sons of Distraction have just recorded a new song, You Weigh Me Down, which is up on their Facebook, Reverb Nation and Soundcloud pages.
Doors to Saturday’s show at The Green in the Village Green Hotel open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance at The Green or $8 at the door.